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Thread: Different approaches to rebirth beliefs

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by robtruman

    Could rebirth or reincarnation have little to do with our physical death? Are we reborn as we strive for Enlightenment?
    I sincerely ask as I don't resemble the person I was at 18, 30, 45 or even 50 for that matter.
    Hi Rob,

    I used to believe in reincarnation when I became involved with Tibetan Buddhism a number of years ago, but eventually I became agnostic about such beliefs. However,that doesn't mean that I don't respect the fact that many other Buddhists believe in literal life-to-life reincarnation/rebirth.

    Here's an excerpt from Ajahn Sumedho's second volume "Seeds of Understanding" in his 5 volume Anthology. (He was the former abbot of Amaravati Theravada Thai Forest Tradition Monastery in the UK.)

    Rebirth Right Now

    You can see rebirth directly; you don’t have to believe in a theory of rebirth. Rebirth is something that occurs in what you are doing all the time. Now, since there is no self, there is nothing to be reborn as a personal essence or soul, carrying through from one lifetime tothe next. However, desire is being reborn; it is constantly looking for something to absorb into or something to become.

    If you are unhappy and depressed, you look for something that you can absorb into that will give you some happy feeling, or at least get you away from the unpleasantness of the moment. That’s rebirth. When you are frightened or uncertain, you have to try to do something to get away from it, to make yourself sure and safe. When you are bored, you have to do something to get out of that.

    Just notice in your own life how you have become accustomed to certain habits. For example, when you go home at night, you go to the refrigerator and get something to eat. You’re reborn as you absorb into the pleasures of eating. Now when you’ve had enough of this birth – you’ve had three ham sandwiches, four McDonald’s hamburgers, and two pizzas – you can’t stand to be reborn into another pizza. Then you seek a new birth in the television set, because when you are bored you want to find some other place to be reborn again. So you get reborn into the things that are going on in the television set.

    When the romantic scenes are going on in the film, you feel that you are absorbed into the romance itself. You’re feeling the joy of that kiss. When he deserts her for someone else, you’re feeling the pain and sorrow, the anger and resentment. Then you get satiated, weary of television, and you read a book. But you can only be interested in that for a while before you become bored again, so you turn on your stereo, which has speakers all around the room, and you blast yourself for a while. And then you have a drink with a cigarette, and you call your friend on the telephone.

    You look into the mirror for a while, but soon you are bored again. You can’t stand the idea of being born again, and you say to yourself, ‘I just want not to exist.’ You don’t actually think this – it’s just a habit. So you go up to your room and crash out on your bed and annihilate yourself with sleep.

    (Continues at the link)

  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Whippet View Post
    I've known Buddhists to whom it is relevant, and it's not for me to tell them they are wrong.
    Absolutely, nor was I telling others that they are wrong.... and indeed our Code of Conduct states:

    17. Buddhism Without Boundaries has no official policy concerning beliefs in rebirth/reincarnation. Everyone is very welcome here, irrespective of whether they choose to believe/disbelieve/ or take no fixed position on these matters.

  3. #33
    Forums Member
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    Feb 2019
    Thanks for the reply.

  4. #34
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    Feb 2019
    I agree in that I would never discount another's beliefs. For me I am less concerned about the after life and more focused on making what days, months, or years I have left meaningful.

  5. #35
    I just came across this quote from Ajahn Dune Atulo.

    "People who practice the Dhamma don't have to give any thought to past or future lives, or to heaven or hell. All they have to do is be firm and intent on practicing correctly in line with the principles of virtue, concentration, and discernment.

    If there really are 16 levels of heaven as they say in the texts, people who practice well are sure to rise to those levels. Or if heaven and nibbana don't exist, people who practice well don't lack for benefits here and now. They're sure to be happy, as human beings on a high level.

    "Listening to what other people say, looking things up in the texts, can't resolve your doubts. You have to put effort into the practice to give rise to clear insight knowledge. That's when doubt will be totally resolved on its own."

  6. #36
    Returning to this topic again...

    Here's an excerpt from a talk given by Ajahn Amaro in 2018: " Unshakeable Well Being : Is the Buddhist Concept of Enlightenment a Meaningful Possibility in the Current Age"

    In Buddhist tradition, and in a more mythological expression, enlightenment is also called ‘the ending of the cycle of birth and death’ – this makes reference to rebirth as well as to the diminishing and ending of rebirth. I think it’s helpful here to say that one of the things that attracted me and many other people towards the Buddha’s teachings is its non-dogmatic nature. I am quite aware that many people don’t like the concepts of past lives, future lives and rebirth. That sort of terminology may send shudders through the system and that’s fair enough. I feel that even though the texts talk in terms like ‘ending the cycles of birth and death’, it is completely valid to think of that in terms of ‘psychological birth and death’.

    What do I mean by that phrase? For example, you might be born into your current book project or your new experimental design. That is a birth. The mind takes hold of a particular venture, a possession, an identity, a personal relationship or a social role. We might say that we are born into the role of being a Dhamma teacher or into the role of being a professor, born into founding a particular project, and with that birth is also a delight.

    The delight comes from the sense that everything is going well, there is the aspiration that beautiful and useful things might come forth from it. But there is also the death element; perhaps things don’t work so well, or you don’t get funded the next time, or you present your thesis and you get slammed by your professors. There is a bitterness that comes when you have invested in something and then have to see your aspirations die. That is birth and death. Buddhist language does not just refer to physical birth and death, it also refers to psychological birth and death.

    My own teacher Ajahn Chah would use these terms when he talked about birth and death. He would talk about being born into a hope, being born into a building project, being born into the role of being a monk or a nun. So I feel it’s completely valid to think in terms of the freedom from birth and death as meaning freedom from being reborn into the entanglement and toxic identification that can come with taking hold of a project or a role or a position and so forth. ‘Freedom from birth and death’ therefore means a complete independence from addictive and compulsive attachments, as well as from self-centred attitudes.

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